Over the past week or so I’ve been doing the daunting task of moving home, during that time things are thrown into boxes, backs are broken moving heavy furniture, and all old services at the previous property are disconnected and new services are set up for the new property, unfortunately for me I left the broadband until (almost) last minute which meant that I had to go without the Internet for a week. “That won’t be so bad” I thought to myself, I mean, I grew up during a time where the Internet wasn’t really a big thing. It wasn’t until now I realised how ubiquitous the Internet has become and how reliant we are on it..
Whether you’re conscious of this fact or not, the Internet plays a bigger part in our lives more than you think and that doesn’t just apply to those of us who use the Internet on a regular basis, even my mother-in-law showed some signs of distress when she realised that she couldn’t access Facebook quite as easily than at home. The Internet is something we’ve now come to rely on, something that we expect to be available almost anywhere thanks to mobile data, and something that our smartphones and tablets rely on – a lot.
This is how last week went down. Both myself and my wife are half way through our monthly data allowance on our phones, the Internet wasn’t set to be installed for another week, and around three days into the move we soon noticed how quickly our data on our smartphones had drained and soon enough, we’d run out. We were essentially completely disconnected from the world as we’ve come to rely on WhatsApp for messaging friends and family, I also use Facebook and Slack to communicate with team n3 so once my data had gone, that was it.
Going back to my mother-in-law for a second, for her, the Internet had become so commonplace she didn’t quite understand how we had NO access to the internet. She’d sent us WhatsApp messages and couldn’t grasp how we didn’t receive them as to her, the Internet is just there, no matter what. It didn’t take much explaining for her to realise, but it meant she had to actually call us if she wanted to get in contact with us and that was weird..
There was a moment last week where we weren’t attached to our phones, it was a strange feeling leaving the house with an empty pocket, but it was a fairly shocking realisation that these devices that are worth near on £400-500 are essentially useless without the Internet. Most mobile games rely on some sort of connection whether it’s to download your progress from an external database and social apps that we often used on a daily basis were unusable. We’d gone back in time to the early nineties when mobile phones did nothing more than text and phone which was perfectly fine back then, so why isn’t it now?
The Internet has become a much bigger part of our lives than I ever thought it could be. Without it a lot of things that ubiquitously use the net become expensive blocks of plastic, glass, and metal. Take the Xbox One for example, I turned it on once we’d all packed and realised that almost 60% of my games collection couldn’t be played due to the need for an Internet connection. No Titanfall, no Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and of course, no Destiny.
The lack of Internet also messed up our evening routine of hopping in bed, opening up the laptop, and watching two or three episodes of something on Netflix. Do you realise how terrible UK TV is when you’ve become used to watching shows like Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, and Lie to Me on Netflix? East Enders has never looked so bad..
Even figuring out whether the new area we’ve moved to has a Tesco or an ASDA became an impossible task without the Internet. Getting directions somewhere meant we had to look at a map or even worse, follow street signs. We also came a little stuck at one point when the petrol light started blinking and we had no data to look up whether a Petrol Station was nearby, that was a tense moment but thankfully we were on the right route towards a petrol garage which was a relief.
In the end we’d resorted to huddling in the corner of the upstairs bedroom which had the slightest signal of a nearby BT hotspot, it was here that we realised the Internet had become a necessity, not a luxury.
I look back on my childhood of not being constantly connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time, and wondered how I coped without knowing that Peter from down the road had just eaten a bowl of spaghetti shaped like Spider-man or how far the nearest pet store is because the cats have gobbled all of their food – not that these things would have concerned me as a young lad, but it’s actually really, really shocking how reliant we’ve all become on the Internet and without it, we’re almost driven to do stupid things in order to get that sweet, sweet WiFi.
Now we’ve finally got the Internet I’m not going to say how I’ve come to realise that we’re addicted to the Internet – hell no. Instead it’d made me realise how incredibly quick the world has changed in the past fifteen years or so and how much something which was once considered a luxury item has become as necessary as electricity and gas when you’re moving into your new home.
Take a look at your smartphone, your games consoles, your PC, your tablet and your laptop and think about how useful that device is without an internet connection. How you won’t be able to send that ugly selfie to your buddy over Snapchat, how you won’t be able to play the latest online shooter with your friends, or how Clash of the Clans won’t load because it can’t connect to the server. It’s incredible, really.